Relationship marketing made simple
It all comes down to one commandment.
I call it the First Commandment of Marketing. Get it right and everything else falls into place. Miss it, and all of your marketing effort is in vain.
That’s because it is foundational to building relationships with customers and prospective customers.
My First Commandment of Marketing is: “Love thy Customer.”
Yes, I did it. I dropped the L-bomb. It’s a word that makes a lot of us squeamish in a business context. But we ARE talking about relationship marketing here. And love is the guiding force for bringing positive influence in any relationship. Including the customer relationship.
That is the end game, isn’t it?
Okay, then let’s take a look at this thing.
Love in business
I recently came across a blog post that posed the question: “Is there a place for love in business?” It triggered quite a few comments. They ranged from the rough-and-tumble corporate culture in a weak economy to government leadership to individual acts of compassion in the workplace.
Related: The leadership love connection
A lot of people come at the subject from different angles. Here is mine.
In business, we need to shift our thinking about the word ‘love’ from gooey Valentine’s emotions to the action word that it is. More than a sentiment, it is an act of service and giving. Acting in love towards customers and prospects is a strategic imperative.
Need proof? Read Jay Baer’s book Youtility. His fundamental premise in the book is to turn marketing upside down, quit trying to be amazing, and be helpful. Giving useful, helpful information to customers is a key to succeeding in the connected economy, he says.
My last post featured a profile from Jay’s book that shows this in action. At the end I asked why don’t more businesses have a youtility mindset? It could also have been worded ‘why don’t more businesses have a love thy customer mindset?’
I think the one-word answer is fear.
Me, me, me
At its core, fear is focused on self. As marketers, we are focused on: my success metrics, my market share, my brand message, my competitive position, etc. This inward focus extends to how we think and talk about customers:
- We target customer segments
- We capture leads
- We acquire and retain customers
- We steal customers from the competition
- We upsell/cross-sell
I don’t dismiss the importance of these strategies at all. But when those things become the central focus of individuals and organizations, it affects how we act toward customers. We too easily look for ways to exploit or manipulate them to meet our goals. It is a mindset based on fear of loss.
Here is a good example.
A retailer in Melbourne responded to the business threat of showrooming by implementing this policy for shopping in their store. The picture of their notice was posted on Reddit with lots of commentary.
You can understand how a business focused on self-interest and fear of loss might look for ways to control the situation. Then take this action. But I doubt customers were feeling the love.
How can you get out of fear and into a ‘love thy customer’ mindset?
Love casts out fear
The short answer is love. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, goes the old saying. An orientation that serves the needs of customers takes your focus off yourself and directs it outward. This is turning marketing upside down, as called for by Jay Baer.
What does that look like?
Like everyone with a pulse, customers desire to be important. Give them what they desire. Some of Dale Carnegie’s classic principles of influence apply here:
- Be genuinely interested in them – authentic outward interest
- Let them talk about themselves – listen
- Talk about what they are interested in – solve a problem, help make life easier
- Make them feel important – and be sincere
All of these timeless principles have something in common. It’s all about ‘they’ and ‘them.’ That is the First Commandment of Marketing in a nutshell. It is simple, but not easy.
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